Buying property, especially if you’re one of those first time owners of property, can be a daunting exercise – especially as so much can go wrong. Over the years, our professionals have tackled a multitude of legal disputes concerning immovable property – particularly in the realm of sectional title. We would advise our clients to be well aware of the risks that come with buying sectional title – and there are a number of steps property owners could take to ensure their risk is minimized – so that a purchase of a sectional title unit is a happy purchase.

 Below is a brief list of some helpful points to bear in mind:

sectionalConsider the financials of the Body Corporate – is it a scheme in debt or with good cash reserves? You would most likely not wish to buy into a Scheme in debt, or with several of the property owners failing to pay levies on a regular basis, or even where significant funds are required in the short term to renovate the Scheme (a special levy required for this usually)

Is the square meterage of the unit you’re buying correct? Draw the plans of the unit – that will give you a definitive answer. Owners and even Estate Agents sometimes get the numbers wrong. This may have a direct impact on the purchase price of a unit.

Is there a loft area at the unit – if so, does it comply with National Building Regulations? (There is a difference between a living loft and a storage loft). Strictly, if a loft is a storage loft, it cannot be advertised as a bedroom (because it is not). Again, this may drastically impact on the purchase price – especially in the case of you re-selling the property in the years to come.
Are there any exclusive use areas allocated to the unit? If so, are they in fact registered at the Deeds Office, or have they been allocated to the unit by the Trustees of the Scheme? If a garden, parking bay or garage is an Exclusive Use Area (“EUA”), then make sure it is either registered as such, or has been properly allocated to your unit – otherwise you risk losing an area you think you’re purchasing.
Are most of the units occupied by owners? If so, it’s likely that that Scheme will be  a well-run one. This is age-old wisdom. Owners in a Scheme will usually treat the common property and other occupiers with far more respect – their interests are at stake, and a well-run Body Corporate benefits them too.
Who is the Managing Agent at the Scheme? It would be better if it was an independent organization, specializing in sectional title administration. An owner, who is also a Trustee of the Scheme, and also involved in the management of the Scheme is usually a recipe for disaster – rather ensure that the Scheme is well run by professional sectional title experts – it may be somewhat costly, but will likely benefit the Scheme as a whole in the long run.
Article by Ian Teague who is an Associate at Gunstons Attorneys, find out about him here.
Image courtesy of ddpavumba at

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